Building Trust in the Dog House
Volunteer Spotlights

Spouses Polly and Mike and their two therapy dogs, Dylan and Arlo, arrived at Longview Farm (LVF), one of The Home’s therapeutic residential special education schools, for a one time visit at the request of the school. A group of toughlooking, older boys were the first to approach the dogs. “The boys absolutely melted and immediately got right down on the ground with the dogs,” said Polly. That was the moment she knew, she and Mike had to keep coming back. Now, they have been making bi-monthly visits for more than five years!

Many of the youth at LVF struggle with trust issues and physical contact because of their past traumas with inconsistent and negative adults in their lives. Seeing them snuggle with Arlo and Dylan, you would never know. Bonding with the dogs builds trust and gives a source of comfort to our kids. Thanks to Polly and Mike and their consistency, youth are motivated to act appropriately in school because spending time with the dogs is a privilege. One young man recently whispered into a therapy dog’s ear and then said loud for the group to hear “Don’t tell anyone… well, maybe just the other dogs.”

Kids who have experienced trauma often put up walls as a protective mechanism or act out behaviorally. But Polly sees a different side of them, “It’s amazing to see the kids change with the dogs. They become so vulnerable and sweet.”

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